Marlins 2022 season preview: room for improvement for Jazz Chisholm Jr.

No Marlins player has had a more exciting start to the 2021 season than Jazz Chisholm Jr. Acquired in the Zac Gallen trading in 2019, Chisholm was hailed for speed, fielding and power. On April 21, the then 23-year-old flaunted all those tools by posting a .969 OPS, 4 homers and 9 stolen bases.

For a Marlins organization that consistently produces exciting pitchers, Chisholm represented the first young Major League bat that the fish might be excited since Giancarlo Stanton and Christian Yelich. Wearing chains and dyed blue hair, he also sold exceptionally well.

Chisholm missed more than two weeks after sustaining a hamstring injury on April 27. Upon his return, he fell back to earth and posted average to below average numbers. He finished 2021 in the bottom ten percent in K% and xOBA, and struggled on the field with a .959 field percentage at second base.

Still, he posted a 2.5 WAR, third-best on the team behind only Miguel Rojas (2.6) and Starling Marte (2.8).

Certainly, the flashy second baseman will have to live up to the high expectations placed on him by the fans, the organization and even himself. ZiPS is currently projecting 1.1 WAR and for Chisholm to once again flirt with a 20-20 season (he had 18 HR and 23 SB as a rookie).

The most pressing needs Chisholm must address are his strikeout issues (28.6K% in 2021 was the third-worst of any qualifying season in Marlins history) and on-court struggles. It would be wise for Marlins manager Don Mattingly to keep him at second base instead of experimenting with him at shortstop. In 37 games at shortstop last year, Chisholm recorded minus-10 over-average strikeouts, compared to plus-6 in 91 games at second base. If he can make his routine throws and stop rushing ill-advised throws, he can be one of the best defenders on this team because his range is already outstanding.

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It’s not a breakthrough season for Chisholm. The most talented field prospects in the Marlins system – Kahlil Watson, José Salas and Ian Lewis – are still several years away from vying for major league jobs. Chisholm will earn a salary of $700,000 at age 24 and is eligible for arbitration in 2024.

But Chisholm tells Fish Stripes he is striving for more “consistency” in every element of his game. He will share the infield with Rojas and Brian Anderson at shortstop and third base, respectively, and will have a utility infielder Joey Wendle breathe into his neck if there is a major injury or collapse.

At the start of spring training, Chisholm ran over one of Mattingly’s morning pressers, posing as a reporter. Mattingly jokes that Chisholm “don’t need attention anymore”.

“He has to produce on the pitch,” Mattingly said. “I don’t want to hear about her hair, her shoes, her chains, her earrings, her glasses. I want to hear about his focus and his work.

Mattingly laughed as he said it. But there’s truth behind every joke, isn’t there?

Ada J. Kenney